Grad Member Spotlight: Heather Sauder

25 Aug 2015

Heather Sauder


PhD Student, expected graduation May 2016

Engineering Mechanics and Wind Energy Science, Engineering and Policy, Iowa State University

Heather has received the NSF IGERT and NSF EAPSI fellowships. She is also the Iowa State Grad SWE President.





What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?
I am a PhD student in Engineering Mechanics and Wind Energy Science, Engineering and Policy. I have an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT Fellowship) in Wind Energy Science, Engineering and Policy and for this summer I was awarded an NSF East Asia Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) Fellowship which is co-sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). I am hoping to finish in May 2016.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
Flexible structures, such as wind turbine blades or long-span bridges, are susceptible to wind-induced vibrations which can lead to catastrophic failures like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. The aerodynamic loads are typically divided into three categories: self-excited (motion-induced), buffeting (turbulence-induced), and vortex-induced. My PhD research focuses on experimentally extracting, through wind tunnel tests, aerodynamic derivatives for a wind turbine blade in order to predict the response of the blade in any given wind condition. Through the NSF EAPSI program and the collaboration with Professor Hiromichi Shirato, Bridge Engineering Laboratory at Kyoto University, I am expanding this research to include bluff cross-sections, like bridges.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
After completing my degree, I am hoping to work at a National Lab with a strong wind energy group. I am also considering working at a company that does wind engineering research and wind tunnel work.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love geeky TV shows, like Doctor Who and Supernatural, and I love working with horses. I am a fan of baking and love experimenting with new recipes. I am very involved in some student organizations on campus and that takes up the majority of my free time.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I grew up riding and showing in hunter jumper competitions in New Mexico and it is an addiction that you can’t give up. I still have my horse, Bounce, in New Mexico and plan to start riding again when I finish my degree.



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